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Alaska Opioid Summary

Revised February 2018

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

In 2016, there were 94 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Alaska—a rate of 12.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. The rate has steadily increased from 8.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2010. This was mainly driven by an increasing number of heroin-related deaths totaling 49 in 2016.

This graph shows the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Alaska compared to the United States from 1999-2016. In 2016, the opioid overdose death rate was 12.5 deaths per 100,000 persons in Alaska, versus 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in the United States.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2013, Alaska providers wrote 63.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (approximately 468,000 prescriptions). In the same year, the average U.S. rate was 79.3. Since then, opioid prescriptions in the U.S. have declined, with an 11.3 percent decline in Alaska from 2013 to 2015, resulting in an estimated 57.0 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (421,000 prescriptions) in 2015 (IMS Health, 2016).

This graph shows the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Alaska from 1999-2016. In 2016, there were 94 opioid-related overdose deaths: 49 involved heroin and 51 involved prescription opioids. Categories are not mutually exclusive because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

The incidence of NAS in Alaska has increased from 0.8 per 1,000 births in 2001 to 5.1 per 1,000 in 2012—a more than sixfold increase (epi.alaska.gov). The average across 28 states included in a 2013 analysis was 6.0 per 1,000 births (CDC, MMWR, 2014).

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, 9.1 percent (3,5941) of the 39,513 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 8.2 percent (2,6141) of cases among men and 13.2 percent (980) of cases among women were transmitted via IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2014, 955,081 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 299.5 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 18.1 percent (131,0561) of males and 22.6 percent (52,013) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2015, 24 occurred in Alaska (a rate of 4 per 100,000 persons), with 2.9 percent1 of new cases in males and no new cases in females attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2014, an estimated 637 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Alaska—a rate of 106 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 21.2 percent1 of males and 16.1 percent of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).  

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, there were 181,871 reported cases of chronic HCV and 33,900 estimated cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Where data were available, 64.2 percent of acute cases reported IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with HCV, including approximately 2.7 million living with chronic infections (CDC).
  • State Incidence: In 2016, Alaska reported 1193 cases of HCV, including both chronic and acute cases, at a rate of 161 per 100,000 persons (Alaska, DHSS). In a subgroup of Alaska Natives, 54.4 percent had HCV attributed to IDU (vhpb.org).
  • State Prevalence: As of 2010, an estimated 11,400 persons were living with HCV in Alaska (hepvu.org).

Additional Resources

NIH RePORTER FY2017 NIH-funded projects related to opioid use and use disorder in Alaska: 0

Notes

  1. Includes transmission to individuals with injection drug use as a risk factor.
  2. 2015 estimate after adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting. Data for 2015 were unavailable for Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

This page was last updated February 2018

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